The University of Michigan is home to a vibrant Jewish community of approximately 6,700 students. Our Jewish students reported high levels of satisfaction with the overall campus climate in our latest campus climate survey.
Seventy-two percent of Jewish undergraduate students and 77 percent of Jewish graduate students report being satisfied or very satisfied with the overall campus climate. That compares to 72 percent satisfaction among non-Jewish undergrads and 71 percent satisfaction of non-Jewish graduate students surveyed.
Promoting diversity in all its forms and enhancing the inclusiveness of our campus community are amongst the biggest challenges we share with colleges and universities nationwide. We work hard to make the Ann Arbor campus a safe and enriching environment for all — and recognize that we must continue to strive to do better, always.
The recently published Algemeiner list (noting U-M among its list of “worst colleges for Jewish students”) does not capture the lived experience of the U-M campus. It is also not consistent with U-M’s longstanding history of welcoming Jewish scholars.
In fact, U-M has received high rankings for its Jewish life on campus from other organizations. In their latest rankings, U-M was ranked No. 4 by Forward, North America’s leading Jewish news organization; No. 5 by Hillel International; and No. 33 by BestColleges.com.
U-M is proud that since 1926 Michigan Hillel has played a significant role in campus life, serving not only the religious needs of the campus Jewish community but also providing a center for social, political and artistic expression. It is unparalleled in terms of its size, diversity and quality of programming, supports nearly 60 independent student groups and provides a “home away from home” for Jewish students.
The Algemeiner list cites a student proposal for divestment from Israel as rationale for its conclusions. Following this U-M student government resolution regarding divestment from companies that do business with Israel, members of the U-M Board of Regents in December 2017 declined to appoint a committee to investigate such divestment. Regents signing the statement noted “we strongly oppose any action involving the boycott, divestment or sanction of Israel.”
It is important to note that while we support our students’ right to engage in political activity, resolutions of this type are in no way binding on the university. Student government does not speak for the University of Michigan. At the same time, the university administration plays no role in setting or approving student government agendas, nor does the university seek to censor or place limits on what our elected student representatives are allowed to discuss or consider.
Incidents of anti-Semitism do not represent the overall sentiment of the U-M campus. As is the case with other expressions of bias or bigotry, the university addresses incidents as soon as we become aware and take appropriate action when possible.
At the University of Michigan, we celebrate and promote the essential idea that diversity and academic excellence are inseparable qualities of a public research university. Our Jewish students continue to be important members of our community of scholars. I deeply appreciate everyone here at Michigan, and throughout our nation and world, who work to improve the experiences of all students pursuing their dreams through higher education.
Mark S. Schlissel
President, University of Michigan